Here is an interesting statement from a spokeswoman for Surrey local education authority quoted in yesterday’s Guardian:
“The schools are skilled in coping with pupils of all abilities and personalities and have excellent behaviour management practices.”
The context for this statement is the case of two boys who were expelled from Glyn Technology school for making death threats against a teacher, then reinstated by an independent appeals panel. The teachers at the school threatened to strike, Estelle Morris intervened to say the expulsion should stand, and the boys have now been placed at other schools, schools with the above-mentioned skills. It is interesting that a strike of teachers occurred this week at a school in France for precisely the same reason: threats by a student, expulsion, then reinstatement by a court. One of the striking teachers pointed out that the student in question was now a hero to some of his classmates, and what sort of situation would that create for the teachers?
But another interesting matter is the word personalities in the quotation. Pupils of all abilities and personalities. Ah. So making death threats is a personality quirk? Just one of those harmless little variations in human character that decent empathetic people learn to embrace and celebrate as part of the exciting multicultural pageant of life? Is that what that is? Does that apply to everyone? Timothy McVeigh, Osama bin Laden, every serial murderer and casual bomb-tosser out there? They’re all just a little moody, a tad difficult, having a bad hair day? Or is the problem perhaps a little more severe than that. If Surrey education authority wants to argue for second chances, well and good, but it ought to do so without resorting to euphemism.